Mark J. Keenan
This is a door
But it’s not just any door. Not at all, because it is the door to one of the retreat cabins at Katharine’s Place, the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in Greenmount.
Over the last two weeks, I have been staying at KSP, on a writing fellowship.
I have been immersed in writing. And not just my own writing. Katharine’s Place is alive with writers’ groups, workshops and social groups and it was all part of the experience to attend some of these, to meet the people involved, and to hear about their passions and their personal stories.
I have met some amazing people - other writers, future fellows and writers in residence, management and staff, volunteers. All of them, so friendly and supportive.
Of course, my time here would not have been the same without my two ‘fellow fellows’, Fiona Roberston and Walter Pritchard, staying in the adjacent cabins. After a day spent pouring over words and ideas, it was fantastic to spend time with these two wonderful people. Discussing our work, our writing, our life - all while making dinner and doing the dishes.
For me, talking about writing, reading, words, life was like breathing inspiration and inhaling motivation. And that came through in my work.
In the time that I have been at KSP, I have been working on the second draft of my main work-in-progress - a fictional novel entitled ‘Chasing Shadows’. Being here has enabled me to see the completed first draft in a holistic way, to see it’s flaws and it’s strengths. It has allowed me to view and develop the manuscript in a way that, I feel, would have otherwise been impossible.
I have had the opportunity to try new ways of looking at the words I have written and the characters I have created and to better understand what they are trying to say. All so that, hopefully, I can help them to say it more clearly.
I have cut, shuffled, shifted, modified, and written old and new scenes. Overall the word count has reduced. And not by a small amount either. The manuscript now weighs in at around 20,000 words lower than when we arrived here. But isn’t that what boot camps are for? Making you leaner, fitter, faster in a short period of time. I am very happy with the result.
I still have work to do, I know that. But I now know where this story should be going and, just as importantly, I know how to get there.
So, for me, this is far more than just a regular door. And, it’s more than a metaphor too. It is, literally, an opening to imagination and possibility; the door to my future.